Columbia University Study Finds Nearly 10% of US Adults 65+ Have Dementia, 35% over 90
Updated: Nov 10
People with dementia and MCO more likely to be Black or Hispanic and have lower levels of education.
In the first nationally representative study of cognitive impairment prevalence in more than 20 years, Columbia University researchers have found almost 10% of US adults ages 65 and older have dementia, while another 22% have mild cognitive impairment (MCI). People with dementia and mild cognitive impairment are more likely to be older, have lower levels of education, and to be racialized as Black or Hispanic, according to the study. Men and women have similar rates of dementia and mild cognitive impairment.
The study was based on data on 3,500 individuals enrolled in the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study. Between 2016 and 2017, each participant completed a comprehensive set of neuropsychological tests and in-depth interviews, which were used to develop an algorithm for diagnosing dementia or mild cognitive impairment. The study is representative of the population of older adults and includes groups that have been historically excluded from dementia research but are at higher risk of developing cognitive impairment because of structural racism and income inequality.
“Such data are critical for understanding the causes, costs, and consequences of dementia and mild cognitive impairment in the United States, and for informing policies aimed at reducing their impact on patients, families, and public programs,” said lead study author Jennifer J. Manly, PhD, a professor of neuropsychology in neurology at the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center and the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University.
Rates of dementia and mild cognitive impairment rose sharply with age: 3% of people between 65 and 69 had dementia, rising to 35% for people age 90 and over.
“Dementia research in general has largely focused on college-educated people who are racialized as white,” says Manly. “This study is representative of the population of older adults and includes groups that have been historically excluded from dementia research but are at higher risk of developing cognitive impairment because of structural racism and income inequality. If we’re interested in increasing brain health equity in later life, we need to know where we stand now and where to direct our resources.”
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